A few years ago Direct Dimensions was approached by Patrick Power Products, Inc. (P3I) with a typical 3D problem: they needed an engine modeled into a 3D digital format. P3I is a cutting-edge company specializing in the development of auxiliary power generation systems. This particular project was for the U.S. Army, which had contracted P3I to use their patented technology and process to convert a rotary engine to run on diesel fuel.
The engineers at P3I needed a complete native CAD model of the rotary engine with full parametric history that would allow them to bring it into SolidWorks computer-aided design (CAD) software so they could design the rotor housing and spark plug area to fit their patented “pre-chamber”. The problem was that the contract had a very fast turn around and, while the engineers at Patrick Power certainly had the skills necessary to draw the engine in their CAD package, they were short on time.
Given this challenge, Patrick Power Products contracted Direct Dimensions to rapidly laser scan and model the engine components. With the file of the existing engine provided by DDI, the engineers at P3I would have ample time to redesign and test their technology before their deadline.
Over the next several days, Direct Dimensions technicians digitized and laser scanned two engines using a portable FARO Scan Arm system. The first engine was scanned in its entirety and the other was disassembled to scan specific areas in more detail. such as the rotor housing. The FARO system provides users both a contact probe for high accuracy geometric features and a non-contact laser scanner for complex contoured cast surfaces.
With the raw 3D data gathered during scanning, the DDI engineers then created accurate 3D CAD models of the engine with specific attention paid to the rotor housing and mounting points. These models allowed Patrick Power Products to design and manufacture their prototype.
The prototype ran successfully on the first test and P3I completed their contract ahead of their deadline. According to Mike Griffith, an engineer at P3I, "with a short duration contract, if we had not had that model, we never would have gotten the engine running. We could have still been making drawings but we actually ended up ahead of schedule."
While complex and challenging, this project is typical for Direct Dimensions and their rapid solutions to 3D problems.